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Psystar Offers $399 "OpenMac" Computer; Web Site Goes Down

Psystar Offers $399 "OpenMac" Computer; Web Site Goes Down

by , 11:50 AM EDT, April 14th, 2008

Psystar announced Monday OpenMac, an Intel-based computer built from industry-standard parts that the company claims will run an unmodified version of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard." The company achieves this by using a EFI V8 emulator that it said tricks a Leopard installer CD into thinking the OpenMac is a genuine Mac. Shortly after making its announcement, the company's Web site went down, and it remains inaccessible as of this writing.

"The highly extensible OpenMac is a configuration of PC hardware capable of running unmodified OS X Leopard kernels," the company said on its Web site. "If you purchase Leopard with your OpenMac we will not only include the actual Leopard retail package with genuine installation disc, but we also include a Psystar restore disc for your OpenMac and we will preinstall Leopard for free so you can begin to use your computer right out of the box."

Astute readers may well hear this news and ask themselves if it doesn't sound like a Mac clone, something whose time came -- during Gil Amelio's tenure at Apple -- and went shortly after current CEO Steve Jobs assumed the helm at the company.


Psystar's $399 "OpenMac"

The correct answer is yes, but the clear difference is that Psystar does not appear to be an Apple licensee, making their marketing approach of promising Mac compatibility, as well as the offer of pre-installing Leopard for you, of questionable legality.

It definitely defies the EULA for Mac OS X, which specifies that the purchaser of a legal copy of Leopard is entitled to install the operating system on an Apple-branded computer. If you buy the $399 OpenMac, you can check the EULA yourself if you also buy the pre-install option, as the company includes a retail copy of Leopard with your purchase.

Spec-wise, the computer compares well against Apple's own Mac mini, which retails for US$599. For your $399, you get a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 Processo, 2GB of DDR2 667 memory, Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics, a 20x DVD+/-R SATA drive that is Lightscribe-capable, and four rear USB Ports.

In comparison, the Mac mini offers a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB memory, an 80GB hard drive, a FireWire port, all packed into a tiny case.

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